Framing an Exterior Door Opening

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The rough opening for a new exterior door should be framed after the interior preparation work is done (pages 172 to 175). but before the exterior wall surfaces are removed The methods for framing the opening will vary, depending on what type of construction your house was built with (see photos, above).

Make sure the rough opening is 1" wider and Ji* taller than the dimensions of the door you plan to install, including the jambs, to allow space for adjustment during installation

Because exterior walls are always load-bearing, the framing for an exterior door requires doubled studs on each side of the door opening and a larger header than those used for interior partition walls. The double-framed stud construction cuts down on vibration in the wall when the door is opened and closed and ensures adequate support for the larger header

Local building codes will specify a minimum size for the door header based on the size of your rough opening, but you can get an estimation of what size the header will be on page 104.

Always build temporary supports to hold up the ceiling if your project requires that you cut or remove more than one stud in a load-bearing wall (pages 182 to 185).

When you finish framing, measure across the top. middle, and bottom of the door opening to make sure it is uniform from the top to the bottom. If there are major differences in the opening size, adjust the studs so the opening is uniform

Everything You Need:

Tools: Tape measure, pencil, level, plumb bob. reciprocating saw. circular saw. handsaw, hammer, pry bar. nippers

Materials: 2' dimension lumber •' plywood. IQd natls.

How Frame Exterior Walls

Cut-off wall stu<

Installed door


Plywood extonsion

Sill ptet*

Walls shown

cutaway for clarity


A new door opening in a balloon-framed house has studs extending past the subfloor to rest on the sill plate. Jack studs rest either on the sill plate or on top of the joists To provide a surface for the door threshold, install nailing blocks, and extend the sub-ftoor out to the ends of the jo«sts. using plywood

Framing Door Jack King Studs

3 If king studs need to be added, measure and cut them to fit between the sole plate and top plate Posjt>on the king studs and toenail them to the sole plate with 10d nails.

How to Frame an Extenor Door Opening (Platform Framing)

1 Prepare the project site and remove the interior wall surfaces (pages 172 to 175).

2 Measure and mark the rough opening width on the so'e plate. Mark the locations of the jack studs and king studs on the sole plate (Where practical, use existing studs as king studs)

4 Check the king studs with a level to make sure they are plumb then toenail them to the top plate with I0d nails

5 Measuring trom the floor, mark the rough opening height on one king stud For most doors, the recommended rough opening is V' greater than the height of the door iamb This line marks the bottom of the door header

6 Determine the size of the header needed, (pages 104 and 105) and measure and mark where the top of it will fit against a king stud Use a level to extend the lines across the intermediate studs to the opposite king stud

External Door Carpentry Jobs

7 Cut two jack studs to reach from the top of the sole plate to the rough opening marks on the king studs Nail the jack studs to the king studs with lOd nails driven every 12' Make temporary supports (pages 182 to 185) if the wall is load-bearing and you are removing more than one stud.

8 Use a circular saw set to maximum blade depth to cut through the old studs that will be removed The remammg stud sections will be used as cripple studs for the door frame Note: Do not cut king studs Make additional cuts 3' beiow the first cuts, then finish the cuts with a handsaw.

Using Cripple Jack

9 Knock out the 3* stud sections, then tear out the rest of the studs with a pry bar Clip away any exposed nails, us^ng nippers.

Bui'd a header to fit between the king studs on top of the jack studs Use two pieces of 2' dimensional lumber sandw>ched around X" plywood (page 212) Attach the header to the jack studs, king studs, and cripple studs, us-

mrt 1HH niilc

•4 A Use a reciprocating saw to I I cut through the sole plate next to each jack stud, then remove the sole plate with a pry bar. Cut off any exposed nails or anchors, using nippers.

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  • Natsnet
    How to frame an exterior door opening?
    1 year ago
  • Heath Wood
    Does sole plate run under door?
    9 months ago

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